News / Africa

Morocco's New PM Vows to Continue Western Alliances

Morocco's newly-appointed moderate Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane (L) greets outgoing Prime Minister Abbas Fassi at the Justice and Development Party headquarters in Rabat, Morocco, November 30, 2011.
Morocco's newly-appointed moderate Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane (L) greets outgoing Prime Minister Abbas Fassi at the Justice and Development Party headquarters in Rabat, Morocco, November 30, 2011.

Morocco has a new prime minister after a moderate Islamist party won the most seats in parliament. The new civilian leader said there will be no change to the kingdom's long-standing alliances with Western powers.

After years in opposition, Abdelilah Benkirane's Islamist Justice and Development Party - or PJD - won more than one-quarter of the seats in a new parliament, and is now moving to form a coalition government with three secular parties.

The former physics instructor, 59, is a veteran of Moroccan politics, joining the Muslim Youth Organization in 1976 before leaving to help found the more-moderate Islamic Group Organization, which eventually became the PJD party he now leads.

Appointed by King Mohammed VI to lead a new government this week, Benkirane said he intends to put the Moroccan people first.

The new prime minister said government today should be ready to serve its citizens. It is those voters who elected the party to parliament and gave it enough seats to form a government, so he said the focus on citizens is now paramount, and state officials should realize that they are here to serve them.

Benkirane's party is a strong defender of the monarchy's “divine right to rule” and backs a continuation of the king's religious, security, and military authority against protesters from a group known as the “February 20 movement” who want many of those direct powers reduced.

Benkirane said the February 20 Movement is a social movement that was established to bring about change, and many of those changes were made in a July referendum. As the group continues, he said he needs to know what they want now. If those demands are reasonable, he said it is natural that the government will agree to them. But if those demands are not clear or logical, then they will have to discuss how else to move forward.

The February 20 Movement demonstrations were sparked by the political upheaval across North Africa. Several of July's constitutional changes brought about by the Arab Spring directly benefit Benkirane.

Morocco's king could previously choose any prime minister he liked. He must now select the head of the party that won the most seats in parliament. Both the prime minister and parliament also gained some new authority.

Political observers here say the moderate nature of his party and its deference to the monarchy means Benkirane's government is likely to maintain Morocco's long-standing alliances with Europe and the United States.

The prime minister says it is unthinkable to dismantle Morocco's historic alliances with the West, which remain based on many mutual interests. He says Morocco's relationships with France, Spain, Britain and the United States will not change.

Benkirane's party doubled its seats in parliament, in part, because it campaigned on reducing corruption, reforming education, creating more jobs, and raising the minimum wage in a country where nearly one-third of young people are unemployed and nearly one-quarter of the population of 33 million live in poverty.

Determined to move ahead with that social agenda, Benkirane said he is realistic that no meaningful change can be achieved without the king's consent.

The prime minister said individual liberties are an internal matter between Moroccans that are regulated by law. Religion is the king's prerogative, not of the head of the government. He says Moroccans must not forget that this is a monarchy, and the head of state is the king, not the prime minister.

Turnout for last Friday's vote was only about 30 percent. Benkirane said he understands that the political situation is “very tense,” and he is promising a “strong government that will give hope to Moroccans.”

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid